Motorola Moto G6 review: a glass-backed budget beauty

Full featured and fantastically affordable, the Moto G6 punches well above its weight

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T3 Verdict

Despite a modest internal hardware spec, the Motorola Moto G6 offers one of the most affordably attractive and - crucially - modern smartphone packages on the market today. An all-glass build, sharp 18:9 aspect ratio screen, and full-featured camera system with AI tech simply make it easy to forget that you're using a device that costs under a third of the price of an Android flagship. If you're shopping on a budget, it's incredibly easy to recommend.

Reasons to buy

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    Lush 3D glass design

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    Crisp 18:9 IPS LCD Full HD display

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    Feature-packed dual rear camera system

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    Solid benchmark scores

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    Fast fingerprint reader

Reasons to avoid

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    Only 32GB of internal storage

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    No IP67/68 water resistance rating

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    Standard model not as well specced as Amazon exclusive

Motorola Moto G6 specs

Dimensions: 153.8 x 72.3 x 8.3 mm

Weight: 167g

Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 450

RAM: 3GB

Storage: 32GB

Display: 5.7" 18:9 IPS LCD 1080p Full HD

Rear camera:  12MP & 5MP (F/1.8)

Front camera: 8MP

Battery: 3,000 mAh

OS: Android 8.0 Oreo

The Moto G5 was as great all-round phone, which not only kept things wonderfully simple but also hit a sweet spot between budget and specs, something that a lot of its competitors didn't manage anywhere near as well.

And the Motorola Moto G6 takes that good, affordable smartphone starting point and then proceeds to coat it in a barrel of 2018, upgrading the handset with a selection of on-trend features such as an 18:9 aspect ratio screen, glass-backed design, and full-featured camera system with AI capabilities.

The result is a phone that while only delivering mild performance bumps over its predecessor in terms of pure internal hardware, coats it in a new level of premium in terms of design, build and feature set.

In fact, as we will see later, if it wasn't for a few caveats it would essentially be the perfect budget smartphone, delivering on almost every level for the tier at a price that rings in at less than a third that of, say, the Samsung Galaxy S9.

What follows is T3's full Moto G6 review, which I've broken down into various key categories for ease of consumption. Before we get to the meat of the review, however, it may be worth you checking out the phone's hype-filled launch trailer to get an overview of its looks and capabilities.

Motorola Moto G6 review: pricing, colours and availability

Motorola Moto G6 review

The standard Motorola Moto G6 will be available to buy on May 9, 2018, for £219 from a wide-variety of retailers including Argos.

There is also an Amazon exclusive version of the Motorola Moto G6 that costs £20 more than the standard edition, retailing for £239. This version improves the RAM to 4GB and the internal storage space to 64GB. This version is also available to buy from May 9, 2018.

The Motorola Moto G6 is available in four colours: Deep Indigo, Black (the colour tested), Blush, and Silver.

Motorola Moto G6 review: design and build quality

Motorola Moto G6 review

Take the Moto G6 out of its box and the first thing that hits you is that Motorola is back as a brand name. The name is emblazoned across the bottom-front-centre of the device, just above the phone's fingerprint reader, and while ideally I like my handset to be as clean and non-adverty as possible, it does look quite classy here.

The next thing you notice is that the G6 is, for a phone at this price point, stunningly wrapped both front and back in glass. The screen gives way at the edges to a smooth, polished aluminium frame and then a lush 3D Corning Gorilla Glass 4 backplate. The result is a phone that looks incredibly premium and feels very nice in the hand.

Buttons and ports-wise you get a volume rocker on the upper right hand side, the device's power button below it, and a USC-C port alongside a headphone jack on the bottom. The phone's dual-sim (single-sim variants of the phone also exist) and SD card slot is accessed via the top right. The left hand side of the device is perfectly clean.

As aforementioned, the phone's fingerprint reader is located on the front-bottom of the G6, and is a thin, curved at the ends rectangle. While obviously not as unobtrusive as a handset with the reader on the rear, we weren't offended by its size or design, with the phone's bottom bezel of only modest size.

And, talking of bezels...

Motorola Moto G6 review: hardware and screen

Motorola Moto G6 review

While they are noticeable on the G6, they are no where near as bad the worst offenders still out there (we're looking at you Xperia XZ Premium), and the phone's tall 18:9 aspect ratio screen helps mitigate the sense that the display is being encroached upon.

The Motorola Moto G6's screen is a 5.7-inch IPS LCD Full HD+ display and, simply put, it does a good if not great job at displaying the phone's content. It's 1,080 x 2,160 resolution screen is very clean and colours are punchy, too, which means that games and movies in particular are pleasurable to experience on the G6.

Motorola Moto G6 review

Our current testing suite of games includes Tekken, Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition, and Hearthstone. I tried each of these titles on the Motorola Moto G6 and, despite some slight lag and stuttering when things got very busy on-screen, reasons for which we'll get to soon, in no way did I feel the visuals were being compromised or degraded by the phone's screen.

Motorola Moto G6 review

I felt this was true also for streaming movies and TV content from Netflix. Look, I've tested phones with brighter, more vivid screens than the Moto G6, however, crispness and detail was never an issue, even when watching content like the new series of Lost In Space where there are many darker, grainier scenes.

So, while firmly put in its place by the best screens out there (we're thinking of that gigantic, super bright and vivid Super AMOLED beaut on the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus) the G6's screen simply does a rock-solid job at presenting both the phone's UI and apps, as well as multi-media content, both of which also benefit from this year's addition of Dolby Audio processing in terms of sound fidelity and immersion.

GeekBench 4 benchmarks

Single core: 756

Multi core: 3,978

In terms of hardware the Motorola Moto G6, while perfectly solid and capable in the majority of applications, doesn't really put any wowzers in your trousers so to speak, and this is without doubt the reason for the slightly less than optimal performance in graphically intensive games. 3GB of RAM is partnered with a Snapdragon 450 CPU and a bare-minimum for 2018 32GB of internal storage space (6.9GB of which is immediately eaten up by the phone's system files).

This spec combines to deliver a good but unspectacular benchmark score in GeekBench 4 (see nearby boxout). That score is roughly a third better than that attained by the G5 but sits well behind, say, the HTC U11 Plus (single core: 1,937 / multi core: 6651). Obviously, that phone costs significantly more money, though.

Picking up the Amazon exclusive G6 is one of the biggest no-brainers of recent times

Simply put, for the price point the G6 is competitive in terms of hardware spec, if not a run-away leader in the tier.

At this point I think it is worth noting, once more, that there is a Amazon exclusive version of the Motorola Moto G6 that despite costing only £20 more than the standard edition, ringing in contract-free at £239, comes rocking 4GB of RAM rather than 3GB, and 64GB of storage space rather than just 32GB.

To my mind, if you can stretch to that extra £20 price point, then picking up the Amazon exclusive G6 instead of the stock G6 is one of the biggest no-brainers of recent times.

If you aren't fussed about the extra RAM, but would like a little extra storage space (yes, you will want more), then you can also always make use of the G6's ability to take SD cards (up to 128GB). I would suggest that with just about 25GB to play with, this would also be a wise investment, as our 32GB review unit filled up to two-thirds full in the blink of an eye.

Motorola Moto G6 review: camera, battery and software

Motorola Moto G6 review

While the internal hardware of the stock Moto G6 leaves a little to be desired, the camera system certainly does not, especially considering the very affordable price point.

The phone comes with a dual rear camera setup, a main 12-megapixel unit with an aperture of f/1.8, and a secondary 5-megapixel depth camera.

On the front of the Moto G6 is a 8-megapixel selfie camera, too, which also comes with a front-facing flash to help illuminate shots in dark environments.

Motorola Moto G6 review

While the rear cameras on the G6 can't shoot at a 4K resolution, they can do 1080p at 60fps and, thanks to a comprehensive snapping suite, offer plenty of potential for creative and quality photos and videos.

You can shoot slow motion video and timelapse, and there's panorama, portrait, and cutout snapping modes, too, the latter allowing you to automatically shoot something and have the background removed.

Motorola Moto G6 review

An example of the Moto G6 camera's "Spot color" shooting mode.

In addition, the seemingly now standard face filter effect functionality is included, as too a neat "Spot color" mode, which allows you to select a specific colour from your image and then have every other colour made black and white (see above image for an example where I preserved the red on the front of T3 magazine).

From my experience testing out the Moto G6 camera, I can confirm that I found it fast and pleasurable to use. It is obviously not the best camera system I have tested here at T3, however, it is important to factor in the handset's low price point, as for this level it is very, very competitive. Here are some sample shots taken with its dual rear camera setup.

Motorola Moto G6 camera image gallery

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As you can see, colour and detail is good, even on overcast days with relatively flat light, and while processing could be a little better when close-up, the images taken offer plenty of quality and contrast and are fast and easy to take.

It is important to remember, though, that you can only shoot in 12MP in a 4:3 aspect ratio, with the more common 16:9 ratio dropping that to 9.4MP, and the phone's native screen ratio of 18:9 down to 7.4MP.

Lastly, the Moto G6's camera system comes with both automatic object and landmark recognition capabilities, as well as a fast (but not biometric) face unlock capability.

Colour and detail is good, even on overcast days with relatively flat light

The Moto G6 comes installed with what Motorola describes as an "All Day Battery". In terms of tech this means it comes packing a 3,000 mAh battery. This battery is also compatible with Motorola's version of fast charging, TurboPower Charging technology, which can quickly recharge the device.

From our experience with the G6 we can confirm that the battery is certainly in the all-day range and, at least for the first year or so of use I imagine, closer to a day-and-a-half range. Would I have liked a larger battery? As ever, of course I would. However, again, considering the low price point I'm not sure Motorola could have slotted in anything else and, in fairness, there are much more expensive phones with the same or barely larger batteries.

Finally, the Motorola Moto G6 comes running a close-to-stock Android 8.0 Oreo operating system. The additions that this brings is Motorola's always neat gesture controls, such as the ability to twist the phone to launch its camera, and also the Moto Voice AI assistant, which comes alongside support for Google Assistant, too.

Motorola Moto G6 review: verdict

Motorola Moto G6 review

We've seen increasing levels of premium entering the mid-range smartphone market now for a few years, with devices like the Honor View 10, Asus ZenFone 5, and OnePlus 5T eating into the hardware specs and design features of flagship devices.

And, while that may be a worry to the flagship-end of the market, which is arguably struggling to identify clear reasons for people to shop there right now, personally I think it is great thing, as more people than ever can carry round with them a handset that offers a truly empowering experience.

What we have here with the Moto G6, though, is some of those premium features now entering the low-end of the market. And at a incredibly rapid rate, too.

In terms of smartphone bang for your buck, things have never been better.

It was only a few years back that glass-backed tech, dual-camera systems, and integrated AI functionality was the preserve of the top-end phone market only, and now here we are in 2018 with a phone that costs barely more than two hundred pounds boasting the technology and more, too.

In terms of smartphone bang for your buck, things have never been better.

The Motorola Moto G6 is not perfect though. The core hardware spec is nothing at all to write home about, with the lack of internal storage space a particular concern, and the lack of a IP67/68 water resistance is also disconcerting (you only get a p2i water-repellent coating that "helps protect the phone from accidental splashes or light rain").

I couldn't help but be a tad confused too with how Motorola has floated out multiple iterations of the G6, and specifically how the Amazon exclusive model is both technically and in terms of value, the far superior device. 

4GB RAM and 64GB storage for £239 certainly sounds a superior proposition than 3GB RAM and 32GB storage for £219 in my mind, and if I were to buy a G6 it would without doubt be the former, Amazon-exclusive model, as it would make both the immediate usage experience better and help future-proof the phone, too. And I'd be spending less than a round of pints to do so.

Overall, though, it is simply impossible to ignore the super all-round package you get when picking up a Motorola Moto G6 (a package that even includes a decent case for the phone in the box, too). The slim, light, glass and aluminium design is very attractive, the hardware solid, the camera system full-featured and easy to use, and the software suite modern and comprehensive.

No, the Moto G6 is a very good phone and, if you are shopping at the lower-end of the smartphone market, a device you simply must look at before pulling the trigger.

For more information about the Motorola Moto G6 then head on over to the phone's official web page.